Trinamool calls rail budget anti-people
Kolkata, Feb 26 : Trinamool Congress on Tuesday slammed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's railway budget presented by Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, calling it anti-people and anti-Bengal and as one done with vengeance against the state and its ruling party TMC.
Notably, the railway portfolio was for years held by the Trinamool Congress while party chief and former railway minister Mamata Banerjee last year removed his minister Dinesh Trivedi for hiking the fare marginally and replaced him with Mukul Roy, till the TMC walked out of the UPA over economic issues.
This year Bansal presented a budget but avoided any fare hike for passengers though he raised the freight charges by five percent and hiked reservation charges for superfast trains along with tatkal charges.
The Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party members held press conference in New Delhi after the Union Rail Budget, marked the Budget as anti-people, anti-poor, directionless.
Trinamool MP Saugata Roy slammed the Union Government and accuse of showing vengeance towards West Bengal and deliberately ignoring the interests of the people in Bengal. They also accused UPA Government of singling out Bengal and compelling all the development projects in State to come to a standstill.
Addressing the Press the Trinamool MP said, "This is anti-people, anti-poor, directionless. The Railway minister has put a burden of Rs. 6,600 crore on the common man by hiking passenger fares earlier. The present hike will increase a freight charge by 5.9 percent which will be inflationary and result in a hike in essential commodities."
He expressed his anguish that it will further introduce a fuel-adjustment component where prices of essential commodities will be increased twice a year. "The Railway minister has increased the amount on cancellation of tickets and Tatkal services which will again put a burden on common man," added Saugata Roy.
"This is a directionless budget, there is only one direction and that is to kill the projects initiated by the Trinamool Congress especially in case of West Bengal which has been singled out for different treatment with an effort to kill all the projects in the State, ultimately it will harm the Indian Railways as a whole," he added.
Referring to the Kolkata Metro, the MP said, "This is the only metro service which comes under the Indian Railways while rest of the metro is under Urban Development departments of respective States. The slash in allocation of funds in case of Kolkata metro is drastic. The Noapara-Airport-Barasat line is Rs. 2,300 crore projects and only Rs. 17-crore have been allotted. Airport-New Garia is a project of Rs. 3,900 crore project and only Rs. 25 crore has been allotted. The Dum Dum-Barrackpore-Dakshineswar is Rs. 2000 crore project and only Rs. 16 crore has been allotted. The Joka-BBD Bagh is Rs. 2,600 crore project and the only Rs. 45 crore has been allotted. The Kolkata East-West Metro is Rs. 4,800 crore project and 50 percent over ground work is complete. Only Rs. 100 crore has been allotted."
Among important projects, the MP referred to the Lakhikantapur-Namkhana-Chandannagar which is Rs. 566 crore projects but only five-crore rupees have been allotted.
"Similarly, Tarakeswar-Bishnupur which is Rs. 553 crore project will get Rs. 20 crore. The Hashnabad-Hingalganj project is estimated to complete at Rs. 260 crore but only one-crore rupees is allotted in the Union Railway Budget. A new workshop was to be constructed at an estimated expense of Rs. 700 crore and only two-crore rupees is allotted. These are token allocations meant to kill the projects as a whole in the State," said Roy.
"Talking of the new train and lines, there are none for Bengal. The Railway Minister proposed seven-new-lines and out of that none for West Bengal. Similarly, the minister proposed five-electrification projects but none for West Bengal and even where the minister says of 22-projects which he propose to do for West Bengal after approval, none for West Bengal," said Roy.
He said that West Bengal was totally ignored when it comes to survey for new lines and gauge-conversions.
However, in doubling the State features in one out of 25. "If you see the new trains too then you will see out of 67-proposed new express trains only four trains have been given to Bengal and that too weekly trains. Bengal gets none out of 26-passenger trains proposed by the minister. Only one EMU has been given to the between Sealdah-Berhampur which is like a lollipop to the half minister. Out of 36 new lines, Bengal gets one," he said.
He said West Bengal gets only three extensions of lines out of 57. "Out of 14 gauge conversions, none are for Bengal. Only one new line for the State out of 27 new lines proposed by the minister," he added.
"So, it seems that the entire budget has been done with a vengeance with utter vindictiveness of the Congress leadership to damage and destroy the Trinamool Congress, I can assure them that they will not succeed, rather in the next election they will be voted out of office and will not have the pleasure of presenting another budget. The people of Bengal will give them a befitting reply so will the people of India," said Saugata Roy.
"This budget is not even worth discussing, it's a mindless and directionless budget. It does not talk of any new high speed trains like the Duranto Express train services introduced by Ms. Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as Railway Minister," Roy concluded.